That is spelled correctly.
As we ponder moving across the ocean, away from a country to which I had pledged my life, to a land where I do not speak the native language, I am faced with issues similar to those entering the United States. Belgium is in many ways dealing with the problems that America faces, and while they deal with them in ways that may be better, changing countries is not an easy process. The economic refugee affects both countries, and protecting the economy from those that will not contribute is of utmost importance. When I enter Belgium, my American passport is stamped without question, but tomorrow when we enter the United States, Lieve’s Belgian passport will be examined, she will be electronically fingerprinted, and we will have to present the letter from DHS stating that her green card has been extended while they consider giving her “permanent” status, because America has been overrun by people who enter illegally.
The annoying part is that even though Lieve now has a green card, were we to leave for more than a year, she would lose her “permanent” resident status. We would have to start the lengthy and expensive process again, from the beginning. My status in Belgium is much more simple. Unfortunately, lacking the size and complexity of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, we’re not certain precisely how simple. The consulate in the States tells us one thing, about a few documents that we would fill out and file with the town hall in Leuven, but when we checked with the town hall, it was even easier. We want to do it properly, but just becoming an illegal immigrant would be the easiest, until I applied for work.
In Europe mixed nationality marriages are more common than in America, think about it as marrying someone from another state, and then when you move in together, your partner can’t vote in your state. Despite the world wide economic difficulties, there is always someone worse off, so Europe was a target for economic refugees from Northern Africa, and with the collapse of the Soviet Union refugees from former Soviet states arrived looking for a better life. Despite the “open borders” of the European Economic Community, some countries are better off than others and would like to keep it that way. Culturally, that little difference in accent is seen much more differently than in the states, it can be told by an accent almost what town you were raised in, everyone appears to be aware of each others origin. Lieve, with her blended Flemish and British accents, is mistaken as South African sometimes. No one is likely to ever mistake me for anything other than American.
We would like to be able to live with dual citizenship, moving back and forth between America and Belgium, but that option does not appear to be available. We need to make a choice, and it is a difficult one. Lieve’s parents are not in the best of health, and could use assistance, and Lieve would like to be able to help. On the other hand, her children are just graduating High School, there will be college, first apartments, relationships, and possibly grandchildren that she would like to be involved with.
It takes about seven hours and a little over a thousand dollars to fly round trip between New York and Brussels, my family is spread across the continent, so visiting will be more difficult. Lieve’s children, with British citizenship and American personalities are likely to stay in the New York area.
As far as employment, the two economies are roughly similar. I can write anywhere, I just need someone to pay me once in a while, Lieve has a network of friends in Belgium, but again, the chances of gainful employment are about the same on both sides of the ocean.
Currency is a somewhat humorous story. When Lieve left Belgium, the Franc was still the currency, then she moved to England, which even though they are part of the EEC, still uses the Pound. She moved to America where the coins make no sense at all to her (dimes, although worth more, are smaller than nickels), and now Belgium uses Euros, so she uses the notes and I deal with the coins. This morning she handed me her change, and in one handful was thirteen euros.
Sunday a new King is crowned, Lieve totally missed the last one. So her ties to Belgium are not as strong as they might be. Her ties are to her family , which draws her to both Belgium and America. Immigration policies, like most government regulations, are designed to inconvenience law abiding citizens while law breakers simply walk through the gaps.